Letters to the Editor week of 7-7-11


VEVAY NEWSPAPERS RECEIVED a press release from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ office late last week proclaiming the success of the state’s “Major Moves” initiative on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the program.

If you recall, five years ago, the State of Indiana leased the Indiana Toll Road in Northwestern Indiana to a private company. It was a 75-year lease with a $3.8 billion pricetag.

The funds generated from the lease were targeted at making improvements to Indiana roads and bridges.

Now celebrating its fifth anniversary, “Major Moves” has invested more than $334 million to improve the Indiana Toll Road; and more than $2 billion from the lease on 200 road and bridge projects.

It appears that “Major Moves” has been a success, even as citizens all over the state debated the plan when it was announced in 2006.

In the press release from the Governor’s office many accomplishments were outlined:

– 185 highway miles have been completed, with 413 expected by the end of 2015.

– 588 bridges have been rehabilitated or replaced; by the end of 2015, 1,190 bridges will have been rehabbed or replaced.

– As of April 2011, the state has earned over $755 million in investment income on the lease proceeds.

– By the end of 2012, 65 projects will be completed or substantially under construction and 30 projects will be accelerated, compared to the original 2006 plan.

All of that seems really good, but I wanted to include in this column a map of Indiana, showing “Major Moves” projects that will be open by the end of 2012; open by the end of 2015; or opened at some point after 2015.

As you can see, “Major Moves” is a major success in and around Indianapolis; but if you look towards Switzerland County or other parts of Southeastern Indiana, apparently we aren’t “Major” – because we certainly aren’t “Moving”.


Oh, there’s a dot at the Ohio-Dearborn County line, apparently the work being done on River Road heading into Aurora. There’s another dot and a short line in Jefferson County; but here in Switzerland County – nothing.


Ripley County appears to be out of the loop, as well; although Jennings County does get a bit of the pie, but not much.

For years officials from Switzerland County knocked on the doors of our elected officials and also officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

We asked – and mostly begged – for better and more improved roads going in and out of the county.

We pointed at the increased traffic from the casinos. We pointed at increased traffic from the steel plants. We pointed at the closure of the Madison bridge to semi traffic.

The state took on a three-year project to fix State Road 129; and then clapped their hands, patted themselves on the back, and headed back north.

No we point to countless overturned semis on the ‘fixed’ highway and we say that the road as it is designed isn’t safe. We plead that the curve in 129 near Jack Ranz’s property, which is becoming a graveyard for overturned steel trucks; needs to be properly fixed before a roll of steel falls on a vehicle or a person.

We point at the River Road: highway 56 coming into the county from the west and highway 156 coming into the county from the east.

We talk about the wrecks we’ve seen on that stretch of road. We know of people who moved off of the River Road because they could no longer take the stress of hearing accidents outside their windows.

We talk about lives lost. We pray that there won’t be any others.

But we know that the odds are, there will be.

At some point this portion of Indiana is going to begin to boom. Cincinnati’s outer loop already stretches to Lawrenceburg and Dearborn County. More and more people in Switzerland and Ohio counties make the drive into the city to work each day.

With the continued development of industry along the Kentucky side of the river; as well as the hard work being done by Jon Bond and the Switzerland County Economic Development Commission to bring industry here; will only mean more and more traffic on our roads.

This weekend the Kentucky Speedway is expected to host more than 100,000 race fans for its inaugural Sprint Cup NASCAR race.

People are already coming into the county in anticipation of the event. Campgrounds are full. Hotels are full. Restaurants are full.

People will be moving to and through Switzerland County in a major way.

Indianapolis is the racing capital of the world, so it only makes sense to expect that a large number of Indiana race fans are coming to the Kentucky Speedway.

How do they get there?

Their GPS systems will bring them down Interstate 74 to Greensburg; then down 421 to Versailles; and then down 129 to Vevay.

Once they make it down 129; they’ll go east on the River Road to the Markland Dam and then south into Kentucky and to the speedway.

Late on Saturday night, once the race is over, many will begin the journey home. Let’s hope that those who have participated in traditional race beverages will choose to go home the next day.

Regardless, our county is about to see a lot more traffic over the next several days; and many of those drivers aren’t familiar with Switzerland County roads.

Heck, some GPS systems aren’t familiar with Switzerland County roads.

A family friend from Shelbyville plugged our home address into his GPS and headed down, only to have his GPS take him down highway 262; then south from Cass Union through Aberdeen and East Enterprise.

It only took him an extra hour.

We also must figure in those who are looking for ‘shortcuts’.

Some will turn onto highway 250 at Pleasant and then go to East Enterprise, hitting Markland Pike and driving down to the River Road. Some may try even more obscure routes.

Statistically, as much as I hate to write this, there is a greater risk of auto incidents and accidents this week. The increased traffic will have a lot to do with that; but our curvy, hilly roads will also play a role.

Let’s hope that what happens isn’t ‘major’.